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U.S. courts allies with free trade offers at G20, France resists

Staff Writer |
The United States sought to woo Europe and Japan with free trade deals on Saturday to gain leverage in an escalating tariff war with China but its overtures faced stiff resistance from France at a G20 finance ministers meeting dominated by trade tensions.

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the gathering of the financial leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies in Buenos Aires that he was renewing President Donald Trump’s proposal that G7 allies drop trade barriers between them.

“If Europe believes in free trade, we’re ready to sign a free trade agreement,” Mnuchin said, adding that such a deal would require the elimination of tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies. “It has to be all three issues.”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the European Union would not consider launching trade talks with the United States unless Trump first withdraws the steel and aluminum tariffs and stands down on a car tariff threat.

“We refuse to negotiate with a gun to our head,” Le Maire told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.


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